Jen Sorensen leads off today’s continuing coverage of the end of the war in Afghanistan, a war which, as we all know from current commentary, was entirely planned and carried out by Joe Biden.
The Economist even solicited analysis from Henry Kissinger, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for having brought peace to Vietnam, though their paywall kept me from reading his pearls of wisdom. (I support paywalls but think handing out a few samples makes sense.)
It’s a shame his fellow laureate, Le Duc Tho, died in 1990, because, having turned down the award on the basis that the agreement had not brought about peace, his insights might have been more valuable.
But, as said, I wasn’t able to read the piece. Perhaps Kissinger explained his role in helping Richard Nixon torpedo LBJ’s near success in ending the war prior to the 1968 elections.
As Politico reported, the Soviets were leaning on their North Vietnamese client to wrap things up:
Nixon sent word to the South Vietnamese that they were sure to win and should boycott any peace talks, the war dragged on, Nixon won the presidency and another 28,000 American boys died, along with countless additional Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.
Which I mention not so much in tribute to Dr. Kissinger, but because, for all the fatuous Saigon helicopter cartoons of the past two weeks, there is at least a valid parallel with that war and this one, in that there is more weeping and blame over the spilt milk than suggestions for how to avoid spilling it in the future.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Biden is being portrayed as a hapless tool, sometimes by, as Sorensen noted, people who were recently praising Trump for having negotiated a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, or, at least, by people who were silent when Trump’s diplomacy freed 5,000 Taliban fighters and their current leader from prison.
And I will confess that, much as I opposed Trump’s condemnation of our troop commitments in Western Europe, I don’t find the mewling of the G7 persuasive: If they want a military presence in Afghanistan, who’s stopping them? Hell, we’ll sell’em the weapons!
As for the accusation that pragmatic peacemaking is the province of girly-men, I’ll leave the pecker-measuring to those who fret over such things.
However, I will go back, not just to the fact that Biden is following through on Trump’s commitment, but to Olivia Troye’s observation that Trump’s advisors railed against bringing out our Afghan allies and cut off the process by which they could request visas.
Any accusations that the Biden administration is responsible for the backlog is inaccurate and unfair:
As I write this at 7:30 AM, the count of evacuees is nearing 90,000.
I, too, wish intelligence had picked up on the way Afghan National forces were bowing to tribal loyalties and preparing to fold in the face of the withdrawal, but, then again, I wish intelligence had picked up on those Saudi flying students who wanted to learn how to steer the planes but didn’t care about how to land.
It’s spilt milk now and we’d be better served to move forward, which I suspect is why Biden is using Trump’s established ties with the Taliban to make the most of what he’s been handed.
After all, even an idealist should include a bit of realpolitik in his strategy, and, as Patrick Chappatte points out, the Chinese are willing to support the Taliban government if we insist on creating a vacuum for them to fill, and perhaps even if we don’t.
Note that Chappatte is addressing the interest of NATO and the EU, not the Americans specifically. But the point remains and the Taliban, their nation now financially cut off by the US and World Bank, have motivation to modify their behavior from its previous extremist levels.
This isn’t even a case of “Trust, but verify.” It’s “Don’t trust, so verify,” and, when the August 31 deadline passes, we’ll find out how hardcore this new government is, because Chinese promises won’t come to fruition immediately and there will likely be more time to work out additional evacuations.
(With this proviso: The tribal, decentralized nature of Afghan society suggests that the central government won’t control every fellow with a gun. We should expect confrontations, even killings, to continue in the streets despite what is said in official documents. Read your history books.)
Biden isn’t crying over the spilt milk; he’s only trying to mop up what he can. I doubt he’s looking for a second term, so the continued kvetching — (as noted*) by Mike Luckovich or anyone else — is not likely to bother him, as long as he can keep loading up that ark.
It occurs to me that it has become fashionable to refer to hopelessly naive, optimistic goals as “unicorns,” almost as fashionable as it has been over the years for cartoonists — and Shel Silverstein — to rip off this 1956 Charles Addams cartoon.
Maybe there’s some way to do a mashup of Luckovich’s cartoon, and Addams’s with the ongoing evacuation, in order to indicate that naivete should become extinct, that we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that sometimes you have to behave pragmatically in order to save all that you can.
Or something like that.
Never mind. I was just being hopelessly naive and optimistic.
Still, it would be nice if we could define our friends and our foes as neatly as Kal Kallaugher does here.
As he suggests, declaring yourself Exceptional is simply setting yourself up for additional gloating when you fail.
But at least we should expect it from Russia and China.
Speaking of American Exceptionalism, I note that James Loewen, author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” has died. Loewen attempted to poke a hole in the triumphalist nonsense with which we have traditionally taught history. One of the anecdotes he shared early in that book was the contrast between the famous little blind, deaf girl at the pump and the ass-kicking social reformer we never heard about.
Loewen spotted the nationalistic rot being promoted in our classrooms; now states are demanding it.
6 thoughts on “CSotD: Spilt milk”
I thought the Luckovich cartoon was crediting Biden and ridiculing the press. Biden/Noah got all the animals on board but the media focus was on the seasick zebras.
“Well, on the manhood thing, I’ll put mine up against his anytime.”
–George Bush (père) responding to Walter Mondale
And Janet, I think your interpretation is right
Yes, definitely. My bad. Should have said “as noted by” which I will edit in, since comments often go unmarked.
Phil Ochs wrote some really boring songs!
I thought Ramirez at least knew how to draw Trump.
Hadn’t heard that Ochs song before. Loved it. I think it would be great with harmony.
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